How to Secure Remote Access Without a VPN?

  • December 14, 2022

Workplace flexibility is one of the common perks that several businesses offer to enhance employee engagement and productivity. The post-pandemic corporate world has changed its perception of remote working. Enterprise mobility is gaining traction and various tools and techniques are being implemented to ensure remote working success.

Secure Remote Access

The rise of enterprise mobility is laying constant emphasis on enabling secure remote access for employees. Thousands of employees working remotely access their business networks, store confidential files on their mobile devices, and exchange sensitive information daily. Some from their homes, others from public places or remote sites. But few think about corporate security before connecting to the readily available public Wi-Fi networks.

Statistics show that around 92% of public Wi-Fi users ignore security warnings on their mobile devices. Most people, at some point, have connected their smartphones to a public Wi-Fi network available at malls, theaters, hotels, etc. Using unsecure networks creates easy entry points for hackers, resulting in confidential data leakage or malware attacks. Thus, VPNs have grown in popularity.

What Are Remote-Access VPNs?

A remote-access Virtual Private Network or VPN is a service that helps businesses create a secure connection between their remote employee devices and their corporate network. Although VPN uses the internet to establish a secure connection, the data sent back and forth is encrypted to prevent it from leaking or being misused.

A remote-access VPN functions using two main components—the network access software (NAS) and the VPN client software. Employees use the network access software to connect to the VPN. This step requires the employees to enter their credentials and sign in, after which the NAS authenticates the user’s credentials.

Employees are also required to install the VPN client software on their devices to establish and maintain a secure connection. Although most popular OSes offer built-in VPN client software these days, some VPNs may ask end-users to install a specific application. On successful authentication, the client software extends an encrypted tunnel to the NAS and establishes a secure connection.

How Secure is VPN?

Everyone is aware of the advantages that remote-access VPNs offer enterprises to keep their corporate data secure. But unless you implement your VPN carefully, it could cause several security vulnerabilities. This makes us wonder how secure the VPN is.

For starters, a VPN may assume a connection is safe based on its location. However, that is not always the case. When a VPN is used to connect third-party vendors, it always gives them full or no access to your business network. There is no such thing as partial access with VPNs. All your business servers, apps, and equipment are exposed to third-party vendors. You cannot even closely monitor the actions of your third-party vendors. VPNs do not offer any granular control to monitor what your vendors are accessing from your network.

VPNs do not offer centralized remote management, which means enterprise IT admins must configure and monitor VPNs on countless devices manually. This also affects employee productivity as end-users have to endure long wait times to receive technical support for issues related to the VPN setup.

How to Enable Secure Remote Access Without a VPN?

Most businesses worldwide trust VPN services to strengthen their data security. However, if the above challenges got you thinking about moving toward a VPN-less remote access security solution, there are a few things you could do.

Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) is an IT security solution that helps enterprises provide their employees with secure remote access to their business apps, data, and servers without a VPN. The ZTNA security principle trusts no one within or outside the system and requires all users to verify themselves to gain access to the corporate network and resources. ZTNA solutions authenticate every user verification, monitor the risk status of the session, and offer end-to-end encryption. Unlike VPN, ZTNA allows end-users to access selective apps and resources within the network.

Cloud-based Firewalls

Cloud firewalls add a layer of security to the cloud infrastructure, just like the regular firewall does for on-premise resources. It protects the business apps and data stored on the cloud by blocking malicious web traffic. Cloud firewalls integrate effortlessly with cloud infrastructure and are easy to deploy and scale. They prove useful, especially in enabling secure remote access to distributed employees.

Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC)

External threats like hackers are not the only source of corporate data breaches. Most data breaches result from poor security practices by the people within the organization. Implementing role-based access controls (RBAC) is an ideal way to minimize insider data breaches.

RBAC restricts network access based on specific roles and permissions assigned to the employees. It only allows authorized employees that have been assigned special permissions and privileges to access the company servers and resources.

Learn More: How does Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) Work?

Conditional Email Access (CEA)

Despite the various forms of instant communication, businesses rely on formal emails for their daily communications. Corporate emails contain confidential conversations, trade secrets and sensitive information that can cause a massive loss of reputation and revenue to businesses if leaked.

Conditional email access (CEA) is a policy that allows enterprise IT admins to restrict their employees’ access to their corporate mailboxes unless they comply with company policies. Most businesses enforce the CEA policy using powerful MDM software.

MDM-enabled Remote Access

MDM solutions are central to enabling secure remote access to employees. IT admins obtain a single central console to manage countless devices remotely. This not only includes effective monitoring with the help of real-time analytics and reports, but it also means tailoring the device’s usage as per business needs. With MDM solutions IT admins can restrict their employees’ devices to a pre-selected list of apps and websites and disable all others. This prevents shadow IT practices and keeps employees safe from malicious software and websites.

MDM solutions empower IT admins to remotely lock their employees’ devices and wipe off the data in events of theft or loss. They can enforce passcode policies, schedule compliance alerts and resolve device errors remotely.

Employee Awareness

Lastly, you must not take employee awareness lightly. It is vital to inform employees about the various lurking security threats and how they could affect the organization and its data. Training employees toward remote working best practices such as using secure Wi-Fi networks, using strong passwords, and not sharing corporate devices with friends and family is a crucial step toward minimizing insider data breaches when working remotely.

How Scalefusion Helps Bolster Remote Access Security

Scalefusion MDM provides an array of features to reinforce corporate security, especially for remote employees. For starters, Scalefusion allows enterprise IT teams to leverage a centralized console to configure VPN on countless devices remotely. This helps businesses maximize their IT efficiency and overcome the critical challenge of manually configuring and monitoring VPN on each device.

The Scalefusion dashboard lets you easily configure comprehensive security policies on countless employee devices to ensure maximum data security. You can configure passcode policies to establish that your employees use strong and unique passwords, as well as to ensure routine password updates. You can also push Gatekeeper and Firewall settings remotely on all your managed devices.

Scalefusion allows you to tailor the use of your company-issued devices to specific apps and websites for safe browsing and prevent your employees from encountering malicious activities. You can also configure Wi-Fi settings on your employee devices for secure internet access.

Schedule a live demo with our product experts to explore more about Scalefusion’s security capabilities. 

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Shambhavi is a Senior Content Writer at Promobi Technologies with prior experience in commercial writing, creative planning, product cataloging, and content strategizing. She is a "Biotechnologist turned writer" and believes that the inception of great ideas happens over coffee.
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